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Breastfeeding and Dental Health

An Unexpected Health Benefit for Your Infant

August is National and World Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and to celebrate, we’d like to take a moment to appreciate all the amazing advantages of breastfeeding for infants and the mothers who feed them. Breastfeeding is well-known for its nutritional benefits. It is packed with the perfect concoction of vitamins, proteins, and fats, customized for your baby’s development. What might surprise you is that breastfeeding can actually have a major impact on your baby’s future oral health. For mothers who are able and choose to breastfeed, you can rest assured knowing that breastfeeding will have the following benefits for your baby:

  • Developing strong teeth

Breastfeeding can help your baby build better bones, and that includes stronger teeth. A study published in the International Breastfeeding Journal showed that children at age 8 who were breastfed for 3 months or longer had a stronger bone density than those who were breastfed less than 3 months, or not breastfed at all. Low bone density in the teeth and jaws can pose a variety of health risks, including fractures and permanent tooth loss. Of course, this does not mean that babies who are not breastfed will encounter these issues. Breastfeeding simply serves as a foundation in helping to prevent them.

  • Improving tooth alignment

There is a clear link between babies who were breastfed and proper tooth alignment. A group of dentists and pediatricians from the University of Milan conducted an extensive study on breastfeeding and its effects on dental health. They compared over one thousand children in total. The children were either exclusively breastfed for their first three months or exclusively bottle-fed for their first three months. They also observed children who were thumb-sucking for more than their first year of life; some were breastfed and some were not. The study concluded that breastfeeding had a protective effect on posterior cross-development. What was especially interesting is that breastfed children who frequently sucked their thumbs saw less instances of cross-bite than bottle-fed children who did the same. This particular benefit might seem surprising, but the evidence speaks for itself.

  • Decreasing tooth decay

Tooth decay that occurs in infants and young children has been coined “baby bottle tooth decay.” It is caused by frequent, prolonged exposure of children’s teeth to sugary liquids. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of baby bottle tooth decay by limiting the baby’s exposure to bottles, which can cause sugar to press against their forming teeth.

Breastmilk also contains antibodies that help counteract the effects of tooth decay. One study published in the British Dental Journal found that the natural effect of the antibodies kept tooth decay at bay for most children with healthy teeth. However, cavities are still possible even for babies who are exclusively breastfed. Breastfeeding is not a foolproof approach, but it is one more step you can take to save your baby from tooth-related pain.

Pediatric Dentistry as the Building Block of Oral Health

As you can see, breastfeeding can have many amazing benefits for your child’s oral health. We know that breastfeeding is a very personal decision, and whether you choose to breastfeed or not, you can always be proactive about your baby’s dental care. To build a solid foundation for your child’s oral health, it is important to take them to a pediatric dentist early in life. The typical recommendation is that they have their first appointment when the first tooth comes in, or around age one. Adventure Dental specializes in full-service dental care for children in a caring, child-friendly environment. From the moment your child grows their first tooth to when they learn to brush their own teeth and beyond, we will support them every step of the way. This will build the foundation for a lifetime of oral health.

To schedule an appointment at Adventure Dental and learn more about our pediatric dentistry services, call our office in Santa Clarita at (661) 276-8755. You can also contact us online.